Ricarda Kather: Case study

at University of Sheffield

BBSRC Industrial CASE PhD Student, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield
BBSRC Policy Intern, Centre for Science and Policy (Nov 2012 - Jan 2013)

The main reason I applied for a BBSRC-funded Policy Placement was to gain a better insight into the world of policy. As part of my PhD I had already worked with industry, but had only a vague idea of what it would be like working in policy.

My placement with CSaP provided me with the best opportunity to do this. I was quickly welcomed and integrated into the very friendly team, who tried to teach me as much as they possibly could. During discussions before and at the start of the placement, I was introduced to the Centre and the different areas I could get involved in. Based on what I was hoping to gain from my time with CSaP, we decided that helping out with the Policy Fellowships Programme would be a great way for me to learn more about the different facets of policy.

During the placement, I organised a series of meetings with Policy Fellows to discuss the progress of their Fellowship. This allowed me to talk directly to senior policy officials from government and industry, and to learn more about the role scientific evidence plays in the policy development process. After each meeting, I produced a summary report which I presented to the team at the Centre’s weekly meeting.

Taking part in team meetings gave me a great insight into the running of the Centre and its involvement in Policy. There was also plenty of opportunity to get involved with the Centre’s seminars and workshops, providing me with an overview of how academics can get involved in the policy process, and how both scientists and policy makers can benefit from this most.

At the end of the placement, I carried out an analysis of all the feedback I’d received from Policy Fellows and produced a final report, which included recommendations to improve the Policy Fellow’s experience. I presented the key findings of the report to the CSaP Executive Committee. I have since been made a CSaP Junior Associate Fellow.

Overall, the placement not only allowed me a glimpse of what it is like to work in policy, but it also opened up a range of career avenues I had been unaware of. I am now more confident when talking to policy makers about my research, discussing the policy implications and presenting it in a way that’s important to them. Amongst other things, I also learnt to work in a fast-paced environment, to meet tight deadlines and to write progress reports; skills that will benefit me in the future. I very much enjoyed my time with CSaP and can only recommend the placement to anyone interested in this area.